One year forth from the 2019 Dongri building collapse in Mumbai and nothing seems to have changed for Mumbaikars.
A five storey building collapsed in the Dongri area of South Mumbai in the early hours of Wednesday. Six people were rescued by the Mumbai Fire Brigade and there were no fatalities. The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) Disaster Management Cell stated that no one was injured in the incident. According to the BMC, the back portion of the building called Razzaq Chamber collapsed at 7:28am. Four fire engines and a scooper machine were rushed to the spot immediately after. On initial investigation, it was revealed that this building came under the cessed buildings of Maharashtra Housing And Area Development Authority (MHADA). Cessed buildings are ones that were built before 1969 with some dating back 100 years. The residents of such buildings pay MHADA a repair cess. The authority did not issue any statement regarding the same. Casualties remained at bay but this isn’t the first time a building has collapsed in Mumbai or in Dongri either.
On 15th July, 2019, a four storey building in Dongri collapsed killing 12 and trapping 40-50 residents in the rubble. Former Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis later said that the building was 100 years old. Further investigation revealed that the building was not listed on the list of dilapidated buildings prepared by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), a major case of neglect.
A year before this incident, on 22nd December, 2018, a MHADA building under construction in the Goregaon area near Azad Maidan collapsed killing 3 people and injuring eight. The deceased and injured were mostly construction workers and labourers. Yet another year back, on 27th September, 2017, 61 people were killed and more than 30 injured after a building owned by the BMC collapsed in the Mazgaon area of Mumbai. The building was 32 years old with 100 residents who had on multiple occasions complained that the building was unfit.
This is not the first case of a building collapse in this year either. In July 2020, two separate chawl buildings collapsed on the same day killing a total of 6 and injuring 17 people. The six storey building called Bhanushali building stood at Mint Road in the Fort area and came under the jurisdiction of MHADA. The list of such incidents can keep going if we try. Though rescue efforts were undertaken in all the aforementioned cases, the tragedies expose a glaring loophole in the functioning of local authorities in Mumbai. Despite the order to prepare a list of dilapidated buildings every year the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation seems to perennially find itself with a collapsed building at hand. MHADA, the government housing body isn’t any better. Non-vacation of dilapidated buildings and irregular repairs and inspections by the body have caused multiple deaths and countless injuries.
Even today, a large population of Mumbai lives in buildings that have been declared dilapidated without the BMC seeming to evacuate them or declare the structure as dangerous. The uncivilized nature of the government body’s work and the history of related incidents calls for a deep probe into the functioning of the body and serious punishment to the accountable individuals to prevent any such events in the future. Further, the BMC must stricten it’s inspections and ensure that it covers each and every structure.